15 April 2015

Do you know how to FAIL?

How does one succeed? Success is a very personal term; only the individual can determine success or failure as only he/she knows what the goals are. This article, however, is not about defining what success is, but rather how to attain it regardless of your definition. 

I will start with a liability statement that this article and the opinions within it will not guarantee any form of success, ever. This is solely based on my opinions & experience and how I have been able to stumble through life, coming out in a reasonably good spot in the end.

Do you know how to FAIL? What is FAIL-ing you may ask? Well this is an acronym – yes, in true military fashion I came up with my own acronym that I am now pitching when I speak publicly and to anyone that will listen long enough. 

FAIL-ing is simple. 

F=friends & family. Reach out to friends and family for help. Use your network, and if you don’t have one build one, fast! Ask them how they got to where they are, what it took, what it cost, how you can do it, is there a certification or additional education needed, and then decide if it’s something that interests you. If not, keep the info in your toolbox as it may be useful later when you are helping someone FAIL.

A=ask. Ask them (friends/family/network) for help, especially if they are successful. We can’t do it alone, everyone needs help with something. The larger your network, the more likely you will find your niche in life and be happy and successful. I’ve learned during my transition from the military that people like to help people - some folks especially like helping vets fresh out of the service. Talk to everyone you can, always get their contact info before you leave and make sure you give them yours. Additionally always, always, ALWAYS tell them (if they offer to help) that you will call or reach out to them at some point for more info. And then follow through with it. Remember to listen to them, you are not there to talk, you are absorbing information and finding ways to find your success.

I=innovate. Be an innovator. Think of new, improved methods to tackle the same old problems. Don’t be afraid to take risks. The military has taught you to adapt - this is an indispensable skill, not everyone has it and many fear it. Your service has trained you to be adaptable to almost anything at a moment’s notice. Use this skill to your advantage, find new efficient, money & time saving ways to achieve the same or better results. You will be the office hero when you do. 

L=learn. Never, ever stop learning. Life is a highway moving at warp speed. Everyone is racing along trying to get to the next mile marker. If you are not continually learning new methods, techniques, or working on the next degree, you are in the break down lane getting passed because everyone else is on the move, especially the younger generations. Talk to people who are successful; ask them what certificate or degree you need. Ask them where to start. Ask them about the mistakes they made and how they would do it differently. Ask if there is a certificate, certification, or training course that would help you get a leg up on the competition (almost every career you are interested in has something these days).

So, you as an active or former service member know how to do this. None of this is new information. You have been well trained and have skills that most of your civilian competition doesn’t have. Use these skills to your advantage. When people ask me what I did to get to where I am, I tell them nothing more than what you are capable of. I listened to my mentors (more as I got older since I knew everything at 18!), got an education, gave a shit about my job and my people. The one thing that I take pride in that was solely on me is that I was smart enough to recognize an opportunity when it presented itself and I acted on it. I’ve let my fair share of good opportunities pass me by but I can rest my head at night knowing that I didn’t let the great ones get away. This is because I wasn’t afraid to fail and I had learned how to FAIL!

So get up off your ass, get out there, and FAIL. One last bit of advice is when you do stumble and fail (not FAIL), make sure you fail fast, dust yourself off and get back in the game to take another swing. Use it as a learning moment, remember what you did right, what you did wrong and use it to your advantage. Nothing in life is a failure if you learn from it.

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

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